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October 25, 2012

Federal Appeals Court Denies Request for Re-Hearing"

"We are here for Texas women -- and we will continue to fight for them," Planned Parenthood says

New Orleans, LA -
 Today a federal appeals court denied a request to reconsider Planned Parenthood's arguments on behalf of low-income, uninsured Texas women enrolled in the Women's Health Program. Planned Parenthood requested re-hearing by the full court ("en banc"), arguing that an August 21 opinion by a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit that ruled that barring providers with the name "Planned Parenthood" from the Women's Health Program does not violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court precedent. 

Following is a statement from Melaney A. Linton, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC):

"Planned Parenthood has been in Texas for nearly 75 years, and we're not going anywhere.  We are here for the patients who rely on us and we will continue to evaluate every possible option to protect the health of our patients.

"But this case has never been about Planned Parenthood -- it's about the Texas women who turn to us every day.  Nearly sixty percent of Harris County area women enrolled in the WHP trusted one of our health centers to provide them with lifesaving, preventive health care.  We know that for most of these women, a visit to Planned Parenthood is their only visit with a medical provider.

"Politics should never come between a woman and her health care.  We have implored the state to put women's health care first, but these efforts demonstrate that they haven't.  Instead, nearly 50,000 low-income Texas women's access to preventive health care such as breast exams, birth control, Pap tests and STD screenings is at risk."

Even while the federal court litigation proceeded, the State of Texas moved forward with plans for its new Texas Women's Health Program designed to bar Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas from that program, as well.   On October 18, the Department of State Health Services ("DSHS") adopted its "Affiliate Ban Rules" for a new, state-funded Texas Women's Health Program ("TWHP") which will begin in only one week.  The adopted Rules create the 100 percent state-funded Texas Women's Health Program solely so the State can try to kick Planned Parenthood out, eliminating the provider trusted by nearly 48,000 Women's Health Program patients last year.  If Texas officials would restore Planned Parenthood as a Women's Health provider, 90 percent of that cost would be borne by the federal government.  In adopting these Rules, Texas has ignored research demonstrating that the result of the Rules will be to dramatically reduce women's access to healthcare statewide.  


FACT:  A study released October 11, 2012 from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services is the latest in a series of research finding eliminating Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program will further exacerbate harm to Texas women caused by Texas' 2011 cuts to its family planning programs.
FACT: A recent analysis from the Center for Public Policy Priorities found that the Affiliate Ban Rules have led nearly 100 health care providers, including Planned Parenthood health centers, to be excluded from or no longer participate in the Women's Health Program.  Together, these 99 providers that failed to recertify for the program or will no longer be in the program if the Rule is enforced against Planned Parenthood provided two-thirds (61 percent) of Women's Health Program services in state fiscal year 2011.

FACT: An estimated 160,000 women are already going without preventive health care this year because of Texas officials' politically-motivated budget cuts to family planning, which have already caused dozens of women's health care centers to close statewide.  

FACT: A recent peer-reviewed study in the New England Journal of Medicine evaluated the short term impact of Texas' 2011 family planning cuts on women's health.  They found the most reliable contraceptive methods, such as IUDs and implants, are less available to women due to higher upfront costs and women are opting out of testing for STDs to save money.  "We are witnessing the dismantling of a safety net that took decades to build and could not easily be recreated even if funding were restored soon," the authors write.

FACT: Texas was ranked worst in the nation in health care services and delivery, according to an annual scorecard issued by the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.  Governor Perry also publicly stated he would not expand Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, which means many women and families in need of health care will continue to be left behind in Texas. 

FACT:  Planned Parenthood health centers that contract with the state for family planning grant funds and/or participate in the Women's Health Program are legally and financially separate from Planned Parenthood health centers that provide safe and legal abortions.  Moreover, consistent with federal and state law, at no Planned Parenthood facility are Women's Health Program funds "used to perform or promote elective abortions."

Planned Parenthood Affiliates in Texas are represented by attorneys with the Texas firm Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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